Crossover Review: Hyundai Venue

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Jun 152021
 

Competition may not be the mother of invention, but it’s certainly related. In the escalating crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) market, carmakers have had to get creative when trying to compete. Hyundai opted to approach the challenge from a value perspective when introducing yet another crossover, the Venue, to its lineup. Latino Traffic Report recently got to drive the thrifty little SUV, specifically, the Venue SEL, and while it may be cheapest SUV offered, Hyundai’s certainly not giving it away.

To hold their own, crossovers need to offer what car buyers want, utility combined with the performance of a sedan. Introduced in 2020, the Venue certainly checks this box offering a 60/40 split second-row seat that deploys easily to expose 31.9 cu. ft. of cargo room. Despite being Hyundai’s smallest SUV, its interior as a whole felt roomy, the seats were a striking black and white two-tone and there were creative cubbies for storage like the one pictured (right) under the dash. The ride, however, was a bit bumpy.

For added convenience, a rearview camera, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with cruise and cruise control, cruise control though not adaptive, remote keyless entry and forward collision avoidance are standard. Initially, getting more comforting technology, like a blind spot monitor, required the Convenience Package but for 2021, it’s now standard on SEL and Denim trim levels. The test model also added a sunroof and leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, as well as the Premium package ($1,750 ) that brought heated fronts seats, LED headlights and taillights, and an eight-inch navigation touchscreen, among other features.

A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with 121 horsepower and 113 ft.-lbs. of torque powers the Venue, matched to a continuously variable transmission. Compact SUVs should also try to be fuel-efficient. The Venue has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 on the highway. It averaged 33.8 on the test drive. The test model included Snow, and Drive modes to improve performance but oddly, not an Eco mode to improve fuel efficiency.

Available in three trim levels, S, SEL, and Denim, pricing for the 2021 Venue starts at $19,870. The as-tested price came to $23,405.

Si: As advertised, the Venue offers utility and value in the compact crossover segment.

No: While adding a blind spot monitor as standard equipment on SEL and Denim was a good move, the base model is excluded. Consumers should at least have the chance to purchase this technology.

Hyundai Recalls Certain 2021 Santa Fe SUVs

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May 092021
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2021 Santa Fe vehicles equipped with 2.5-litre Turbo engines. The fuel pipe connecting the high pressure fuel pump to the fuel rail may not have been tightened properly.

Dealers inspected and tightened the fuel pipe connection, free of charge. The affected vehicles have been repaired and therefore no owner notification letters will be sent. Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai’s number for this recall is 206.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

LTR’s SUV Sampler

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Dec 312020
 
Toyota Highlander

The Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment remains so viable that not even the COVID-19 pandemic could hurt its sales. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association: “Despite a decline for all car segments, sales of pickups, SUVs and crossovers all posted gains relative to this time last year. In the first three quarters or 2020, three out of every four vehicles sold were light trucks.”

Responding to the trend, domestic automakers killed off most of their car models, opting to focus on SUVs and trucks, while import brands just kept expanding their lineups further with more and more models, from crossover compacts to full-size SUVs. Here’s a sampling of the models Latino Traffic Report (LTR) got to drive in 2020. 

Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD

First introduced in 2001 the Toyota Highlander joined the lineup as the first midsize crossover SUV offered by the brand. Over time, the Highlander not only grew in size, it gained a third row and became the best-selling retail model in the segment since 2016.

Redesigned in 2020, the fourth-generation Highlander is still growing, which has translated into greater cargo volume, for a total of 84.3 cu. ft. with the second and third rows folded flat. It also gains more versatility with a second row that slides up an extra 1.2 inches, a handy shelf under the dash for extra storage, and maximum towing of 5,000-pounds.

While Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all models, more advanced safety technology, like the blind spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, comes standard on four of the five available grades. There is a recall on the 2020 Highlander due to a concern over seat trim covers.

LTR got to drive the top-of-the-line Platinum trim with all-wheel drive (AWD). Equipped with multiple drive modes, from Eco to Snow, maximized the performance from the AWD system.

A 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and 263 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission powered the test model. It had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. It averaged 19.7 mpg on the test drive. The standard Stop and Start Engine System should have increase fuel economy although it fell short on the week-long test drive. Still, it engaged with minimal clunkiness.

All grades come standard with Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM, and WiFi connectivity.

Added features like the 12.3-inch touchscreen display rather than the standard eight-inch display helped the test model live up to its up level trim. The Platinum grade also comes with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven.

The test model added heated and ventilated front seats and a heated second row, adaptive LED projector headlights, and a panoramic moonroof.

Pricing for the 2020 Highlander starts at $35,720. The as-tested price came to $51,112.

Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 2.0T FWD

Redesigned in 2019, the fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe became the brand’s best-selling SUV in America that year, with sales of more than 1.6 million units.

It will receive a freshened look for 2021, accentuated by a new grille more in line with Hyundai’s current DNA, but the 2020 model tested by LTR also included some refinements.

The Limited 2.0T front-wheel drive (FWD) test model was one away from the top-of-the-line trim, exceeded only by the AWD version of the Limited. That changes in 2021 when the Calligraphy trim will be top-of-the line.

While not standard on all trims, Smart Sense safety technologies like the blind spot monitor with a camera view displayed in the instrument cluster, forward-collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert were included on the test model. It also had the optional Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert that reminds drivers to check the back seat for precious cargo before exiting.

Inside, the Santa Fe offers more cargo room behind the second-row seats and expands space behind the first row of seats with rear seats folded flat to 71.3 cubic feet. For added convenience, the second-row on the test model dropped down with the push of a button,

Hyundai offers two four-cylinder engine options on the Santa Fe. The test model came with the latter, producing 235 horses and 260 lb.–ft. of torque. It has an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 20/27 mpg. It averaged 31.1 mpg on the test drive with a slight turbo lag. All engines are mated to a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The test model also came with three drive modes, Normal, Sport, and Smart, for improved performance.

For owners of an Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X as well as compatible Android devices, there’s an available Qi wireless charger.

During this test drive there was also a chance to test Hyundai’s 24-hour roadside assistance when the test model developed a flat. While the service was timely and did put on the spare, which was a temporary tire or donut.

Pricing for the 2020 Santa Fe starts at $27,415. The as-tested price came to $38.730.

Lexus RX 450hL Luxury AWD

Lexus ventured into the luxury hybrid SUV market with its RX model more than a decade ago. Refreshed in 2020, the RX 450hL tested by LTR included three rows of seating, improved performance, an updated Lexus Multimedia System, additional standard safety features, and a refreshed exterior design.

As a hybrid, it’s not only the top-of-the-line RX, it’s also the most fuel-efficient. Lexus pairs the fuel injected 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators for strong acceleration and passing performance. The standard AWD system, or “all-weather” according to Lexus, employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed for optimal traction.

It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 29/28 mpg. It averaged 25 mpg on the test drive. A stiffer suspension design helped enhance its performance by reducing the noise and vibration from the road while four drive modes, from Sport to EV, should enhance fuel economy at slow speeds though that wasn’t reflected in the test drive.

Updates to the Lexus Multimedia System now include Apple CarPlay integration for an iPhone accessed through the RX’s standard eight-inch touchscreen dashboard display. The RX is also the first Lexus model to offer Android Auto integration.

Other standard luxury features on the test model included heated and ventilated front seats, as well as heated seats in the rear while the third row folded flat electronically.

While it’s the top-of-the-line model as a hybrid, many features remain optional, like the 12.3 touchscreen that comes with the Navigation Package ($3,365). The display was bright and engaging, especially when the navigation system was on view. The instrument cluster, however, was less vivacious.

New safety technology added to the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 includes daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.

The standard blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert was also upgraded on the test model to include Intuitive Parking Assist.

Pricing for the 2020 RX 450h starts at $48,845. The as-tested price came to $65,340.

DePerez Joins Hyundai Motor America

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Sep 022020
 

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has learned that Hyundai Motor America has appointed Fred DePerez as the new vice president of Product Line Management and Sales Planning where he will oversee the current Product Line Management, Sales Planning, and Retail Operations teams. This newly created division will allow Hyundai to react more rapidly to market conditions and improve decision making across the enterprise. DePerez will report to Hyundai Motor North America president and CEO José Muñoz.

“Fred is a seasoned leader with an extensive background in understanding market conditions and delivering results,” said Muñoz. “Creating this new division will allow us to better leverage data and take full advantage of national and regional opportunities to increase profits and gain market share. We are excited he’s joined the Hyundai team.”

DePerez has 25 years of automotive experience. LTR first met him when he served as vice president of Nissan’s Northeast Region, also under Muñoz. He also spent six years at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles where he led Dodge brand operations and 11 years at Toyota Motor Sales USA in various sales and marketing positions.

Hyundai’s Product Line Management group focuses on ways to improve performance by analyzing target customers, segment dynamics and the dealer’s engagement level of each Hyundai vehicle. Sales Planning analyzes industry-wide trends and identifies national and regional growth opportunities for Hyundai. Retail Operations manages Hyundai’s national incentive spending, certified pre-owned programs and sales planning activities.

¡Felicidades Fred!

Sports Car Review: Hyundai Veloster

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Mar 312020
 
Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ultimate

From coupes to convertibles, sports cars can be found in several automotive segments, but among three-door sport coupes, there’s only one option, the Hyundai Veloster. Redesigned for 2019, the more refined model bears a cleaner exterior design and improved engine choices. For 2020, the Veloster gains even more standard equipment. Latino Traffic Report recently zoomed about town in the Veloster Turbo Ultimate.

The Veloster’s third door.

There are six available trims and each comes in unique colors, materials, and accents. The redesign smartly included a two-tone exterior paint option reserved for the Turbo Ultimate trim. The test model came in a Chalk White body with a black roof.

While a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six-speed manual powers the base model, the test model came with the turbo-charged 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horses and 195 lb.–ft. of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters. A six-speed manual transmission had been available on the Turbo Ultimate, but not for 2020. That’s a shame because at the Veloster launch, where LTR drove both transmissions, the manual really ramped up the coupe’s sporty performance. The manual is also standard on the R-Spec trim.

 The automatic, however, will earn the best EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. During the test drive, it averaged 33.8 mpg.

To customize the driving experience, Drive Mode Select comes standard on all Velosters and offers three driver-selectable modes—Normal, Sport, and Smart. Left in Sport for most of the weeklong test, the ride was noticeably stiff and heavy. Active Engine Sound, standard on the R-Spec trim and above, allows the driver to adjust the engine rumble for a sportier effect.

The Veloster’s appeal may be connected to its sportiness but it is a hatch and as such, it offers something other sport coupes don’t, utility, namely 19.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row seat and 44.5 cu. ft. with it folded flat.

Standard safety features on the Veloster include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with autonomous braking, Lane Keep Assist, and a rear view camera with dynamic guidelines. One away from the top-of-the line trim, the Ultimate added Forward Collision-Avoidance with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

Features like Blind-Spot Collision and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, as well as Blue Link, Hyundai’s onboard emergency, diagnostic, guidance service, are standard on all but the base trim.

Standard creature comforts include basics like air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a seven-inch display screen with AM/FM radio, dual USB ports, steering-wheel-mounted audio, Bluetooth, and cruse control, plus Apple CarPlay/Android Audio. Stepping up to the Turbo Ultimate brings fancier features like an eight-inch display with the Infiniti Premium audio system and navigation, a proximity key, leather seating with heated front seats with an orange accent stripe, a sunroof, and a heads-up display.

Pricing for the 2020 Veloster starts at $19,755. The as-tested price came to $29,440.

Si:  The three-door Veloster stands alone among sports coupes with its design and value.

No: The automatic transmission didn’t elevate the driving experience.

Muñoz Heads to Hyundai

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Apr 242019
 

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has just learned that Hyundai Motor Company has appointed José Muñoz, formerly with Nissan, as global chief operating officer. In this capacity, Muñoz will oversee global operations strategies and their implementation. His focus will be to deliver profitable growth and to improve overall performance of Hyundai Motor based on his decades of automotive and technology experience.

“José Muñoz has an impressive track record and is proven to be a visionary and motivational leader who is adept at all aspects of our business,” said Wonhee Lee, president of Hyundai Motor Company. “His decades of automotive and technology experience make him well suited for this new role as we move the company to the next step. We are looking forward to Muñoz joining the team, and will lean on his leadership skills and vision to achieve long-term sustainable growth and evolve into a Smart Mobility Solutions Provider.”

Muñoz is no stranger to LTR. I first met him when he joined Nissan in 2013 as senior vice president of sales and marketing for the United States and Canada. At the end of his tenure he was chief performance officer for Nissan Motor Corporation and the chairman of Nissan China, but he had also recruited several Latinos to the executive suite, including an LTR favorite, Fred Diaz, currently president and CEO, of Mitsubishi Motors North America. Muñoz was recruited from Nissan Mexicana, where he spent many years managing operations in Mexico and growing Nissan’s market share to 25 percent.

“I am excited to join Hyundai Motor at this vital time in its history,” said Muñoz. “My capabilities around delivering steady profitable growth, managing the entire supply chain, and working together with our dealer partners to find win-win solutions match up well with the opportunity here. I am eager to bring best global practices from the automobile and technology industries to my new role as COO of Hyundai Motor Company and am honored to join this esteemed corporation.”

Muñoz has also been named president and CEO of both Hyundai Motor North America and Hyundai Motor America. He will be responsible for the entire American market, including Hyundai Motor North, Central and South America, as the Head of Hyundai Motor Americas Region. Muñoz is an important hire in further solidifying Hyundai’s overseas business reorganization that was announced last year with the creation of Hyundai Motor North America, among other regional headquarters around the world.

A native of Spain, Muñoz earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Polytechnic University of Madrid and has an MBA from the Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School in Madrid.

From LTR to you, ¡Felicidades señor!


Vehicle Launch: 2019 Hyundai Veloster

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Oct 092018
 

Veloster Turbo R-Spec

Despite what it says in the dictionary, two doors no longer do a coupe make. It has been redefined by automakers to refer to sporty vehicles and can include four doors, or even three, like the singular Hyundai Veloster sport coupe. Latino Traffic Report recently attended the launch of the all-new 2019 Veloster in Austin, TX. Its cleaner exterior design and improved engine choices will excite fans and attract new ones.

The new fascia resembles Hyundai’s current design DNA more faithfully than its predecessor. The grille is less cluttered and a darkened roof is standard on the top-of-the-line Turbo Ultimate trim, reflecting the current industry trend. While the two-tone look is not available across the lineup, each trim does come in unique colors, materials, and accents.

The Veloster’s appeal may be connected to its sportiness but it is a hatch and as such, it offers something other sport coupe’s don’t, utility, namely 19.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row seat, more than Mini Cooper, Mini Clubman, and VW Beetle.

A 2.0-liter engine four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb.–ft. of torque powers the base model. It’s matched to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Dash on the Veloster Turbo R-Spec.

Ramping up the sportiness factor is the turbo-charged 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine on the Veloster Turbo and Turbo Ultimate that produces 201 horses and 195 lb.–ft. of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and SHIFTRONIC transmission gear control. The automatic will earn the best EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. We drove both at the launch and clocked an average fuel economy of 32.9 mpg. While the manual may be slightly less fuel-efficient, it has a definite advantage when it comes to the driving experience, offering more power, responsiveness, and fun.

To customize the driving experience, Drive Mode Select is standard on all Velosters and offers three driver-selectable modes—Normal, Sport, and Smart. The cherry on top of every Veloster powertrain is Active Engine Sound that enhances that engine rumble that sports car enthusiasts crave.

Center stack on the Veloster Turbo.

Still mindful of the competitive advantage safety technology adds to any modern vehicle, the 2019 Veloster includes standard Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with autonomous braking to help the car detect and avoid an imminent collision, Lane Keeping Assist, and a rear view camera with dynamic guidelines.

Features like Blind-Spot Collision and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, as well as Blue Link, Hyundai’s onboard emergency, diagnostic, guidance service are standard on all but the base trim—it would be nice if these features were at least available on it. The base model does come with a blind spot mirror.

Seating on the Veloster Turbo.

Standard creature comforts include the basics like air conditioning, power windows, remote keyless entry, a seven-inch display screen with AM/FM radio, dual USB ports, steering-wheel-mounted audio, Bluetooth, and cruse control, plus Apple CarPlay/Android Audio. Stepping up to the 2.0 Premium brings fancier features like an eight-inch display with the Infiniti Premium audio system and SiriusXM satellite radio, a proximity key, and heated front seats. The Turbos add a wide sunroof and leather seats to the list.

Hyundai likes to call the Veloster a “reverse halo” but if a halo car is one that attracts folks to a dealership, then the Veloster is simply a halo, no qualifiers necessary. Pricing for the 2019 Veloster starts at $19,385.

Veloster Turbo

Car Launch: 2018 Hyundai Sonata and Elantra GT

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Feb 082018
 

Auto shows may offer a first look, but automotive launches give journalists a first impression of a new or redesigned vehicle. At the recent launch of the redesigned 2018 Hyundai Sonata and all-new 2018 Elantra GT in Charleston, South Carolina, attended by Latino Traffic Report, two features made a big impression—the blind spot monitoring system and six-speed manual transmission.

Hyundai has been known to take risks to set itself apart from its competitors, like its five-year/60,000-mile, fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty. For the 2018 Sonata, Hyundai makes another bold move by adding a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert to the Sonata’s list of standard equipment, setting it apart in the midsize sedan segment. At the launch, John Shon, senior manager, Hyundai product planning, admitted that this is the most requested feature by customers.

Created at Hyundai’s California design studio, the 2018 Sonata improves on looks, accented by the new cascading grille, sculpted hood, LED daytime running lights, and catamaran shape on the lower bumper, as well as, essentials.

Choices abound when it comes to powertrains with three available engines and transmissions—a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, a 2.4-liter gasoline direct injected engine matched to a six-speed automatic, and 1.6-liter turbo matched to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. All transmissions are include Shiftronic simulated manual shifting.

While a hybrid and plug-in hybrid will be available, the best fuel economy from the three powertrains mentioned, will be the 1.6-liter turbo unique to the Eco trim with an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Powered by the 2.0-liter turbo, the test model Sonata Limited at the launch averaged 28.8 mpg.

As for other new technology, a wireless charging pad for Android phones is available as is Lane Keep Assist with Driver Attention Alert, a heated steering wheel, and smart cruise control.

Built in the United States at the Alabama assembly plant, the 2018 Sonata has a starting price of $22,935.

 

Elantra GT

With a silhouette that bears more resemblance to a wagon than a hatch, the all-new five-door 2018 Elantra GT presents an interesting option in the compact segment. Even more refreshing, however, is that it also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and not just on the base trim.

If offered at all, most manual transmissions are used by manufacturers to lower the starting price on the base model, which is sold as-is, i.e. without the chance to add available options. Equipping both trims, the Elantra GT and GT Sport, with a manual transmission means that aficionados, like yours truly, can drive a stick with access to upgrades and features like a blind spot monitor (standard on the GT Sport) or smart cruise control. The GT Sport also gets a unique red shift knob.

The appeal for a hatch is convenience and the GT fulfills that expectation offering nearly 25 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat and 55.1 cu. ft. with the 60/40- split rear seat folded flat.

Standard features include a rearview camera, eight-inch display audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and individual tire pressure display, another great feature. Have you ever tried to figure out what tire needs air without it?

Interior, 2018 Elantra GT Sport.

Like the Sonata, the Elantra offers unique four cylinder powertrains for both trim levels. The 2.0-liter powers the GT with 161 horsepower and 150 ft.–lb. of torque. While the manual transmission is standard, a six-speed automatic is available. The GT Sport is powered by the 1.5-liter turbo with 201 peak horsepower, 195 ft.–lb. of torque and offers a seven-speed automatic as an option.

Fans of new technology will appreciate the new Blue Link skill for Amazon Alexa that links an Alexa-enabled device, like an Amazon Echo or Dot, to start the car.

Pricing for the 2018 Elantra GT starts at $20,235.

At the launch, both vehicles performed nicely and should attract buyer attention. Offered in a wide range of trim levels, the fact that all Sonatas now include the blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert creates a win-win, from the base to the top-of-the-line. The compact five-door segment offers versatility and economy. With a manual transmission available on both Elantra GTs, Hyundai’s five-door hatch surpasses expectations.

 

 

Ramirez Promoted to Senior Group Manager of Product Communications

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Sep 082017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that the communications team at Hyundai Motor America has added Hyundai veteran Brandon Ramirez as the senior group manager of Product Communications. In this role, Brandon is responsible for communicating the attributes of Hyundai’s entire product lineup to traditional and digital media. This includes auto show strategy, new vehicle launches and ongoing content creation for Hyundai vehicles. Brandon reports to Jim Trainor, director of Hyundai’s communications efforts in the United States.

Brandon is transitioning to the communications team from Hyundai’s product planning division, where he worked for the past thirteen years leading product development, market launches and lifecycle management for Hyundai’s lineup of cars, CUVs and alternative-powered vehicles.

BRANDON RAMIREZ

His expertise also includes target audience research, analyzing market trends, and serving as company spokesperson to media and other third parties. Brandon also has extensive multicultural experience serving as the chair of Hyundai’s internal “Amigos Unidos” employee group, which is tasked with community engagement and raising culture awareness at Hyundai.

“Brandon is the perfect fit in this role with his in-depth product and industry knowledge, experience as a media spokesperson and the relationships he has throughout the entire organization,” said Trainor. “The addition of Brandon completes the recent reorganization of the PR team that better aligns Hyundai communications with the evolving automotive business, media and digital landscape. We’ve built the communications team of the future that will be able to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences and media habits, and can help us stay ahead of our competition.”

Prior to Hyundai, Brandon spent several years in product strategy at Mitsubishi Motors North America and was an acquisition analyst at Fairfield Investments. Brandon graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of San Diego.

Car Review: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited

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Aug 122017
 

How do you redesign one of your all time best-selling models? Hyundai chose to add new features and technology to the all-new 2017 Elantra while dropping the starting price by $100. Having attended the regional launch last year, I recently drove the Limited or top-of-the-line Elantra trim level in a week-long test, for Latino Traffic Report and was reminded of the value Hyundai continues to reflect in its lineup.

As the word implies, a redesign starts on the outside. Defined by Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille, the new Elantra also has smoother contoured lines that enhance its aerodynamics. The redesign also includes equipment firsts like the available HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lights, unique vertical LED daytime running lights, the LED door handle approach lights, and LED taillights.

The Elantra comes with two available powertrains, a 1.4-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s reserved for the Eco trim level. The Limited and base model SE are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horses and 132 lbs.–ft. of torque. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission with the Active ECO System on the Limited, which also includes Drive Mode Select that allows the driver to choose between a Sport, Eco, or Normal setting to further enhance its performance. I kept it in the Eco mode for most of the drive to conserve fuel. The Limited, with its 17-inch wheels, has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. I averaged 35 mpg during the test drive.

Stepping up to the Limited trim level brings many more advantages, particularly when it comes to safety features. Standard advanced safety features include a rearview camera, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. Surprisingly, some premium brands still include a blind spot monitor on an optional package so I’m always happy to find this critical safety feature included as standard equipment. Still, I would like to see it available throughout the lineup but it’s not available on the base SE with a six-speed manual transmission, it comes with a blind spot mirror on the driver’s side instead.

The Limited is the only trim with leather seating throughout, the Blue Link Connected Car system and a three-month trial of Blue Link Connected Care. The Limited trim also includes heated front seats and offers heated rear seats not found among its competitors.

Segment firsts include premium features like s a hands-free Smart Trunk (standard on the Limited)—there’s no need to swipe a foot under the bumper, just approach with keys in your pocket and in a few seconds, the trunk will open.

For added convenience, the rear seat is split 60/40, folding forward for additional cargo volume. Classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA. The Elantra already offers class-above total interior volume with 110.2 cu. ft. Cargo volume in the trunk reaches 14.4 cu. ft.

The test model also added the Tech Package ($2,500) that included navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Infinity Premium audio system, and the Ultimate Package ($1,900) with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection, Lane Keep Assist, and smart cruise control, among other features.

Pricing for the 2017 Elantra Limited starts at $23,185. The as-tested pricing came to $27,710.

Sí: The Elantra Limited offers great value with impressive standard features like the blind spot warning system.

No: Important safety technology should not be reserved for the top-of-the-line trim but should be available across the lineup.